Friday, November 30, 2012

Golden All A-Glow

This fall, Oliver and Mommy went to the Eye Dr in Golden for a check-up.  The Dr told us that her FAVORITE event in Golden for the entire year was the candlelight walk down Washington Street.  We marked our calendars and made it a date.  It turned out to be a wonderful event and a perfect way to kick off the Christmas season.
People started at the top of the Washington Street hill and walked down together with candles, while singing Christmas carols.  We caught up with the crowd mid-way and proceeded to the end of the walk by the bridge.  We walked right under the Welcome to Golden sign.
Kellan was all eyes on the crowd.
Oliver was "keeping a sharp eye" out for his teacher who was there was well.
Kellan even found the spirit moved him to want to walk "by self".
Down the middle of Washington we marched on a crisp and clear Colorado night.

We settled into a spot at the end of the walk to watch the carolers, Santa and the mayor prepare for the lighting of the trees.

The best view was sitting a-top some tall shoulders.

After a countdown with the crowd, the lights were lit.
We took a great walk down Clear Creek where all of the trees were a-glow.
Even the bridge was glowing to show us the way home.
Erch... Pause... this was also the furthest place from a restroom.  I was once again reminded how nice some things must be when you're a boy, like peeing behind this construction sign.  It's also so nice to be the Mom of boys to be able to say, let's just pee behind this sign.  It wouldn't be a Ham Fam adventure without a pee shot.
It also wouldn't be a Ham Fam adventure without a Starbucks night cap.
We had a wonderful evening and both Keith and I agreed, this is why we love living in Golden.  It gives us the small town feel that we miss from home, yet we're so close to most everything we could want.  There is such a sense of community and we are so glad to be a part of it.  We also love that we can spent time like this with the four of us, connecting as a family over Christmas lights, moving Music and Starbucks.
From Golden, Colorado, we wish you a Very Merry Christmas season!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tree of Vision and Values

Every year, I have visions of decorating the Christmas Tree with my boys.  Visions of talking about each ornament and their meaning and history. Visions of Christmas music and snow falling outside.  Visions of happy children and parents.  Visions of carefully snapped photos of the big picture and tiny details.
If you have studied Vision statements, you know they are something to aspire too.  I'm here to say that my Vision continues to be just that.  A Vision.
The reality is that Kellan is two, Oliver is five, Keith is a a supportive husband and I am a tad bit OCD when it comes to my visions.
Oliver was SO excited that he kept asking "When can we put on the ornaments?  Why can't I decorate the tree yet?  When can we put on the ornaments?"
Kellan didn't understand that the ornaments were fragile, he had to wait and he couldn't do everything "by self".
Keith saw the Vision clearly and decided to clean the basement instead with an occasional drop by to see if any help was needed.
I nearly had a holiday meltdown.
(insert Visions of a desired cocktail, here)

Every year, I reminisce about Christmas as a kid, myself.  We would trudge though the woods to pick the perfect tree, which Dad would cut down and drag back to the house through the snow and cold.  I'm sure that someone had a vision that this was sentimental   I remember it as being cold and exhausting, but it is a memory that I cherish.
Every year, I am reminded how we would have to wait for what seemed like FOREVER for my Mom to start the decorating process.  This included untangling the lights, checking that they worked, stringing the lights and stringing the garland on the tree, just so.  I also recall asking my Mom, "When can we put on the ornaments?  Why can't I decorate the tree yet?  When can we put on the ornaments?"
Every year, I remember that I liked to put on the ornaments that I made or were fun and I remember gazing at the round ornament in the special box that was a wooden carving of a Christmas scene, complete with a choo-choo train.  This was the ornament that Mom put on the tree.  It was a special ornament to her.  I never knew why but I always thought it was because it was SO nice and Mom wanted to keep it that way as it wasn't plastic, cloth or construction paper.
As I watched the boys fight over ornaments, play with them like toys, clump them on the bottom branches and finally break one or two I took a deep breath, remembered my childhood and opted to make lunch.  (It's important to feed our family, especially if anyone is cranky.)  I don't remember my Mom being upset that the Christmas tree wasn't "just so", I remember the time we spent ooing and ahing over the beauty of the process, the tree and the moment.  That's what I want my boys to remember.  So, we ate lunch and finished after we had full bellies and I had more patience.  It's not about the tree being "just so", it's about making memories as a family.  (I may or may not have adjusted a few ornaments here and there just as my Mom did with the tinsel after she said "be sure not to have clumps and spread it out" and it ended up in clumps and not very spread out.  I always thought it was because she was taller to reach the top.  Mom's are slick like that.)  I cherish these moments as a kid and I want our boys too as well.

As we broke out the Christmas decorations, we pulled out a nativity scene that the boys got from Nana a few years back.They enjoyed playing with this while we were putting up the tree and fluffing the branches.
There is a star on the top of the manager that sings and it provided entertainment for the boys and the nativity characters.
Kellan liked it so much that he sang back to the star.
Next ups, we pulled out the snow globes.  Kellan loved these globes and they rang out Christmas tunes all around.  I guess we really did have falling snow and Christmas music.

Oliver was very careful with the ornaments and would pull them out one-by-one and put new hooks on the ones that had lost theirs the year before.
(he was devastated when an ornament fell off the tree, hit the ladder and shattered on the floor.  Fortunately, nobody was hurt and it was just a red ball.  It was a good lesson that we have to be careful and also put things into perspective.  It was just a red ball.)

There was plenty of comic crack relief.
Kellan put a few ornaments on the tree and Oliver was great at teaching him how to properly hang them on a branch.

Oliver also explained to Oliver that you have to put some ornaments towards the back so that it's not a one sided tree.  He is well trained and versed in the art of decorating the tree and finding the perfect home for each and every ornament.
Oliver always finds it fun to put ornaments up high with the ladder.
Thanks to lunch (compliments of Keith who passed through at the perfect moment), a deep breath and a new perspective  there were smiles all around while we decorated the tree and put on the finishing touches.
While Kellan took a nap, Oliver and Daddy put the train around the base of the tree.  Once Kellan woke up, Oliver couldn't wait to show Kellan how it works.  It was a big hit!!
The next day, Keith was so inspired that he put the lights on the outside of the house and it was a festive addition to our weekend.
It's official, the Ham Fam is ready to ring in the Christmas season.  The house looks great, inside and out and we had a valuable reminder that it's not always about how the Vision comes to life, but about cherishing the moments and memories that come with it and recognizing that the Vision may come to fruition, even if it's not how it was originally envisioned.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Littleton Lights

We may have moved from Littleton, but that doesn't mean that we can't crash their Christmas Lighting Party.  This year, the Metzger's invited us to join them and a few other families for the festivities followed by dessert at their house.  We all met at a restaurant for dinner and they didn't have tables big enough to accommodate all of us so we wrangled the kids in this round booth table.  It may or may not have been a good idea but it worked.  The far left is Oliver and Charlie and 
Charlie's brother Peter is right in front.
At the street festival; Kellan, Oliver and Daddy
Couples Photo!
Crazy Eye Oliver with a Hot Cocoa Smile!!
Charlie and Oliver were SO happy to see each other and spend the evening together.
Kellan was happy to sport his sock monkey hat in the cold outdoors.
Mommy and her boys!!
The whole family in the holiday spirit!!
The way the parade works is Santa comes down the street on a float and as he moves down the street they light the trees.  It's a one float parade and it takes quite some time for Santa to make his way the whole way down to the end to light the big tree.  Kellan kept a close eye on Santa.
Once Santa got a bit closer, Kellan was so excited and kept saying "hi Santa" from atop Mamas shoulders.
"Hi Santa!"
Once he got to the end, Santa lit the big Christmas Tree in downtown Littleton.
It's official, we have said goodbye to Thanksgiving and hello to the Christmas season.  
Let the Christmas Music BEGIN!!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Post Turkey Trot

The day after Thanksgiving we woke up to six deer in in our backyard.  They must have talked to the Turkey's prior to Thanksgiving and then decided it was free and clear to come out on Black Friday. 
Speaking of Black Friday, we didn't get anywhere near the stores.  In years past, it sounded like a festive way to kick off the shopping season, but I have finally come to the conclusion that it's not as much fun as it sounds when it takes longer to move through the parking lot than I really desire.  However, we did do plenty of online shopping and took full advantage of free shipping.
Back to the deer in the backyard.
What a treat to wake up to this view from Kellan's room.
This guy spent much of his time on guard.
We have heard from neighbors that one winter when this house was empty (remember, it was bank owned for a few years) the deer made our backyard their home base.  I don't think we want to recreate that, but it's fun having them stop by for a visit now and then.
When we got downstairs, the boys opened the back door and the deer didn't really seem to care.  They just looked at us, so I took a picture.
The deer spent over an hour in our backyard and we eventually lost interest in watching them until they jumped the fence to leave.  The kids thought that was quite exciting.
After breakfast, we opted to hike to the top of North Table Mountain for burn off some Turkey dinner.  We loaded Kellan up in the Ergo and hoped he would ride for much of the way up the 600 ft incline.  He made it about 10 minutes.
We're off!
As we started to hike up, Oliver took a hand for added support on a steep and slippery spot.
Kellan opted for a ride on Dada's shoulders instead.  I suppose the view probably is a bit better up here but poor Dada's shoulders.
Much of the hike up is a road sized trail so that the utility workers can get to the top.  It's a nice hike for the whole family and we often see people riding their horses up there as well.
Kellan eventually wanted to be carried on Keith's front side so we slid the Ergo under him.  Kellan has never been a fan of being in a carrier, but he didn't seem to mind this time.  Keith has never been a fan of it either, but he did say that it was much easier with Kellan's weight on his hips instead of in his arms.
Feel free to tease Keith next time you see him, but don't tease him too much or he'll never use this contraption again.  Don't worry, the ergo is good for up to 40 lbs and I recently had Oliver in it on my back.  He's about 40 lbs... maybe 41 on a heavy day.  Kellan rings in just shy of 30 lbs so we've got some time left with him.
Kellan decided that it wasn't a bad way to ride and Dada was good at blocking the wind.
Once we finally made it to the top we took a snack break on this rock.
We also attempted a family photo.
We spent some time at the top exploring.  It was a chilly but beautiful day.

These two had a great time goofing around.
Kellan is like Oliver's mini-me.  Sometimes we use this to our advantage.  Often times we have to remind Oliver that his little brother will do and say everything he does and says.  This is usually followed with directions to stop doing what he's doing or saying because we don't want it mimicked.  Life is hard as the oldest child (and the youngest child... and every child in between if you're one of them like Keith and I)
Without a doubt, these two are each other favorite people.

Mommy and Daddy self portrait.
Kellan was in search of ants and bugs.
We thought it would be too cold for them, but we eventually found and ant hill that sent a few soldiers out to defend the fort.
At the top of the mountain/hill are these big power lines.  The artistic side of me wishes they weren't there so that I could take a scenic photo.  The practical side to me is glad that they are there so that we have power to our house and community.
The view of downtown Denver with power lines across the skyline.
Finally, we decided to head back down.  Lunch and nap time was approaching.

The view to the North of North Table Mountain.
There are two Table Mountains that surround Golden (and the brewery).  Ironically, they are labeled South and North.
This photo is to give perspective to the mountain (hill) that we climb up.  Like usual, the photo doesn't do it justice.  We feel fortunate that we have this gem in our backyard and we enjoy hiking up it as much as possible for a convenient outing.
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